The logo of the Free Voters at the state assembly in Bavaria: Next accusation of anti-Semitism
Matthias Balk / picture alliance / dpa
In the run-up to the state elections in Bavaria, tweets from a Free Voters politician are causing a stir. The direct candidate for the constituency of Mühldorf am Inn, Markus Saller, has deleted his X account (formerly Twitter). The occasion is X-Posts, which he had also left under a post by Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD).
Lauterbach had shown himself in a photo with his doctoral supervisor Amartya Sen and his wife Emma Rothschild. According to screenshots, Saller commented: "Rothschild?". According to a screenshot, he had previously written in a tweet of a "Great Reset game", an anti-Semitic conspiracy narrative according to which a small elite of (Jewish) super-rich people were pursuing a "plan to redesign the world". In this context, "Rothschild" is a cipher for the anti-Semitic stereotype of "financial Jewry" (read more here).
With the deletion of the account, Saller's posts and answers are no longer available.
Asked by SPIEGEL about the Rothschild tweet, Saller said he had not thought about the family's Jewish background. He had seen that Lauterbach's doctoral supervisor was married to a Rothschild and had put a question mark behind it because of the notoriety of the surname.
Regarding the term "Great Reset," Saller told SPIEGEL that this was a flippant remark that he describes in retrospect as unpleasant. Here, too, he was not aware that the term could be associated with anti-Semitic ideology, Saller said.
"Today I have become aware that there is a connection between my posts and anti-Semitism, but it was never wanted, and I distance myself from any form of anti-Semitism," he said. "It was a stupid post, and if I have hurt people's feelings, I apologize."
He deleted his X account because he could no longer cope with the reactions on the platform, he told SPIEGEL. Since he is in the election campaign, does not have a large team and no longer knows how to help himself, he has deactivated his X account. "I understand the excitement that I wasn't aware of at first. I did not intend any form of anti-Semitism."
It is not the first time that the Free Voters in Bavaria have been associated with anti-Semitism. At the end of August, reports of an anti-Semitic leaflet distributed by the Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs, Hubert Aiwanger, in his youth, caused a scandal.
Aiwanger apologized and defended himself, stating that he was not the author of the leaflet – his brother said he had written it. The national chairman of the Free Voters accused the media of running a campaign against him. He did not respond to calls for his resignation from other parties. CSU leader and Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder held on to Aiwanger as deputy head of government.